Likes: Food, squeaky toy, rope toy, playing with her sister Brandy, butt scratches, remote controls, attacking my butt
Pet-Peeves: Going outside - she's terrified of going outside. Evil camera, strangers, noises, anything new
Favorite Toy: Changes constantly because toys get destroyed in one day....
Favorite Food: Anything I'm eating
Favorite Walk: Walk...? She hates walking... So... hm... livingroom?
Best Tricks: She doesn't do any tricks... yet. She's working on overcoming her fear and forgetting about her past.
Arrival Story: At the end of March 2003, I was looking through www.petfinder.com special needs dogs, and saw the following description of a Lab/Shep mix called Faith:
Disability description: 1.6.03 to PRESENT... A few days before Christmas, I was contacted by the Clayton Co. Humane Society in Atlanta, GA. They had received a call about a woman who could not afford to feed her animals anymore and wanted to surrender them to the shelter. Since three of the dogs on the property were labs, I was asked to go out and see if there was something I could do to help the labs as well as get an overall picture of the situation.
When I arrived at the house, I walked to the backyard and saw an old rusted car, trash, and a filthy, unkempt yard. There was feces everywhere in the back and the smell was horrible. There were 2 adults (the mother and father of Faith - female, black lab and male, German Shepherd) 2 nine month olds (Faith and her brother) and 2 puppies approximately 6-8 weeks old. They told me the pups were from the black female getting pregnant again - they said that they had given away all the pups but the two they had. I had originally gone for the black female but once in the backyard I was taken by a poor chocolate lab mix who was known as only "baby girl". She could not stand totally up due to a deformed front leg. The owner said that she had been born that way and was pretty much treated as an outcast by the rest of the pack. The other dogs did not let her eat any food and she was not allowed into the "house" that the husband had built for the dogs for protection from the weather, the "house" consisted of three pieces of scrap wood and a tarp stretched across the top.
When I tried to approach Faith, she ran - she was scared to death. The husband went to the kitchen and tossed some dog food on the cement stairs (he said they preferred to eat off the steps since it was long and acted like a feeding trough so everyone could get some.) Needless to say, the dogs did not let Faith get near the food. The husband then explained he would throw food on the ground for her because the others would be busy eating their food from the stairs. I couldn't stand it, if I didn't help this girl, she would never make it at a shelter and so I went back the next day with tranquilizers to catch her since sedation was the only way I would be able to get close to her.
After catching her (even though sedated she was still very difficult to catch) we brought her straight to the vet's. The first thing was to evaluate the leg, get her shots and a heartworm test. My vet told me her leg would need to be amputated since the bone had begun to grow and had no where to go. She would never be able to stand up straight unless her limb was removed. This poor lab had lived a life of neglect, feeding off the ground and never experiencing human touch. I decided to do whatever it took to help her. The amputation was done and we began trying to work with her.
Unfortunately, the kennel at the vet's made her even more frightened with all the dogs barking and being caged. Faith does not do well on a leash so she would need to be carried in and out of the kennel to go outside. After coming from a life of living in underbrush in her backyard, the environment she was now in was only putting her further back into her shell. Then the unspeakable happened, after 3 weeks of boarding, I received a call from the vet telling me she had escaped and they were looking for her now. After searching for 10 days, she was finally caught thanks to the vet's office staff looking for her on shifts and posting signs on every block. We believe she slipped through the metal poles of the fence and the gate. After that we knew we had to get her out of that environment. The vet's office had done all that they could, she would not get better being there and an urgent plea for Faith's foster care was made.
A wonderful angel answered Faith's plea and she was moved to a home with a garage hoping to eventually bring her inside; however when she becomes frightened or approached by someone she defecates and could not be brought inside. She had gotten better at one point and we started bringing her inside, which she loved! But as soon as she would get scared she'd poop again and my foster mom's husband put his foot down and said she had to be moved back into the garage. She is very lonely and wants so bad to come inside but because of her problem and a husband wanting her gone yesterday, she has been moved back outside to the garage.
Faith needs someone who can spending quality time with her, someone that has time to work with her, and of course, love and patience until she feels secure. Faith is truly a good dog but needs someone who is experienced with feral dogs. Faith does not have any aggression whatsoever, only fear. She will try to bite through a leash and so a leash with a chain is a must. My foster mom has since asked her husband for a divorce and will be moving within the month. Now Faith has nowhere to go. I have no idea what to do. She cannot be kenneled at my vet's for fear of her escaping again. It was horrible when she got out the first time. She has come further than she was from the day I rescued her but still needs so much work. She is good with other dogs and also with cats - I truly believe she is very lonely right now and really wants companionship, she's just afraid of it right now for lack of understanding. Faith is doing well on her three legs. The problem is her fear of people. She allows me to pet her but when she feels threatened or scared she will poop out of fear. We currently have Faith on anti-anxiety medicine to try and help with her fears, amitryptilline 50mg. taken twice a day. I truly believe with someone working with her daily this could change.
After reading this with tears falling down, I couldn’t sleep 3 nights in a row, couldn’t do anything but thinking about the poor girl’s scared face on the picture. I knew I couldn’t do anything at the moment because I was living in an apartment with no-dog clause. But since my lease was expiring at the end of July, if they could just hold on to her, I could adopt her. I sent an email after 3 sleepless nights if there is anything I could do. The rescue replied back telling me that they found another foster mom for her and they don’t think Faith will get adopted for some time. So frantic search for a house began for me.
After all, I couldn’t get a house in my price range, so I settled for an apartment allowing dogs and cats, paying 600 dollars more than I used to pay as monthly rent. And because they wanted to rent it starting June, I ended up paying rent for both places for a couple of months.
Anyway, after I signed the lease I contacted the rescue again to adopt Faith. The rescue was reluctant to let me adopt her because I had not seen how serious her behavior problem was, so they didn’t want Faith to travel such a long distance putting her under enormous stress and end up being returned to them. So, I agreed to fly down to Georgia to meet with the rescue and Faith.
It turned out that Faith was living in a bathroom in her foster because the foster had gotten a lot of dogs (more than 10), and they surrounded Faith and attacked her when the foster mom was not paying attention. When I entered the bathroom, I could see this little dark colored thing shaking uncontrollably inside the bathtub under a cardboard. The foster mom explained that she likes to hide so she put a cardboard at the corner of the tub so that she could feel safe. When I got close to pet her, she let her poop out still shaking and in her attempt to avoid my hand, she was literally swimming in her poop. It was so painful to see. She was skin and bones, not because foster mom wasn’t taking care of the dog but because she doesn’t eat if she’s under stress. They told me she was in an even worse shape when she was kenneled at the vet.
I told the rescue, I’m getting her, and signed the contract and paid the adoption fee. I flew back without making a decision how to get Faith up to New York with the least amount of stress on her. After talking over and over about transporting Faith to me, flying her commercially was out because she would be scared to death, transport legs was out because it would be too dangerous – she was known to escape out of fear of people. Then we discovered skyark. We put a request, but since they already made a run in this area a couple of days before, and no pilot was volunteering, I ended up just sitting there and waiting for a week and a half not knowing if it’s going to happen or not. I couldn’t take it, my baby is sitting in a bathtub all by herself lying in her own poop. So I decided that I’d fly down and drive her up myself one weekend.
Fortunately, my co-worker volunteered to help me. So on a Sunday early morning, my co-worker and I flew down to Georgia, rented an SUV, picked up my baby and drove up to New York.
I renamed her Georgia from the song “Georgia on my mind” suggested by a friend of mine since she’s been on my mind every single moment from the day I saw her on petfinder. And she’s the love of my life.
Bio: This is a rough summary of the progress she made in 11 months after I got her (June 2003 - May 2004).
Upon arrival, Georgia found a corner of my living room and decided to stay there. So I set up her food and water station and wee-wee pads close by where she can have easy access, and littered the corner with various chew toys and squeaky toys. She learned to use wee-wee pads in her fosters because she was terrified of going outside – she still is. According to the rescue, the owners told them that once Georgia’s dad (Shepherd) found out something was wrong with her, he would bring her in his mouth and leave her outside in the rain. Georgia’s mom, on the other hand, would come out of the shelter and bring Georgia back in, but the dad would bring her back out again, and the mom would not come out to get Georgia the second time. So the rescue thinks that Georgia is terrified of going outside because she’s scared she would be left out there… Another thing I found out later was that Georgia’s leg wasn’t deformed, but crushed by something like a lawnmower or something when she was very young and the owners didn’t treat her.
The next day when I came back from work, she was inside a cat carrier – who’d have known a Lab/Shep mix would fit into one… To let her out of there, I needed to disassemble the carrier. She eventually got out of there and went into her crate. And she wouldn’t come out of it – she’d pee and poop inside refusing to eat. I noticed she’d come out to drink water if I seemed to be asleep. So when she got out, I quickly closed the crate door so that she can’t go back in. Now she went back to her favorite corner of the living room where I set up the doggie bed for her.
For days, she would just sit or lie there. I could see her trying so very hard not to fall asleep with her bloodshot eyes. She would eventually doze off, but after 5 seconds, she would wake up and frantically look around. The only thing I wished for her for the first week I had her was for her to get a good sleep because it was so painful to see. She would not eat while I’m in the same room, so I used to go into my bedroom and close the door for a couple of hours so that she could come out of her corner and eat, drink, and use the wee-wee pads.
I consulted a behaviorist who recommended to do basically what I’d been doing, which was to let her come out of her shell in her own time. Nothing was to be forced and just work on her to be comfortable in her environment first. Then I was to work on her getting comfortable with me. She was put on Prozac.
Day by day, I would find some evidence that Georgia was getting comfortable – by rearrangement of some things in the living room. And one day, I came into my bedroom, closed the door, and I heard a squeak followed by one bark! Oh how sweet the sound! I got out to the living room, and of course Georgia was back on her bed looking very scared, but one of the squeaky toy was tossed smack dead in the middle of a puddle of her pee on the wee-wee pads. I told that incident to the rescue, and we all cried – nobody knew up until then if Georgia was mute or not because she never made a sound before then. From then on, I would hear squeaks and toys being tossed around everywhere, and Georgia running around…
Georgia was getting more comfortable with me as well, so she approached her food while I was still in the living room. She lowered her head to reach the food, but her eyes were moving in all directions. She took a mouthful, looked around frantically, ran back to her bed and started eating off the bed. This process would continue until the bowl was empty. Oh how painful to see that… Every single moment of her life, she was afraid of her life. She was afraid to eat, drink, sleep or do anything. I don't know how many time I layed next to her (who was trying to avoid looking at me) and talked to her crying my heart out, "how can I make you understand it's safe here and I won't do anything to hurt you?"
As she was getting more comfortable, I had to deal with more scrubbing the carpet because now instead of staying on the bed, she would run around letting her poop out. The thing was that when she poops out of fear, the poop wasn’t solid at all and Georgia running back and forth didn’t help either. Her poop would be smeared all over and sometimes kicked onto sofa and things. Everything scared her, people talking outside, noise from upstairs, cars, everything…. For a couple of months, I had to spend at least 3 hours a day scrubbing the floor – sometimes it was a bit overwhelming with my chronic back pain, and I broke down and cried a couple of times. But on the other hand, her poop was getting more solid, not as much, and she started wagging her tail when I came back from work. She wouldn’t approach me, and she would still let some poop out, but she was happy to see me while being scared at the same time. Then she started to do this bucking horse impression – she was jumping from joy, but having only left front leg, she looked like a horse bucking in a circle.
Everyday since then was just like seeing a puppy grow up. When she made her teeth marks on my remote control, I was jumping up and down from happiness! When she started to take treats directly out of my hand, I said “YES” so loud I scared her. When she finally decided to come up to my bed and make herself comfortable, I cried so much. When she started to pull my socks out of somewhere, I’d cry. When she play bit my big behind while I was cleaning up the wee-wee pads, I was happy. When she finally decided that she wants to sit next to me on the chair, that was heaven for me. When she attacks me when I’m sitting down and watch TV, that’s like playing fetch in a field.
When I was bitten by a dog on my hand, she sat down and licked my hand endlessly… When my friend visited a few weeks ago, instead of hopping into the bathtub, she decided she’d be right next to me. Can you imagine the happiness I felt?
Georgia is still nervous when I get up and walk around – she tries very hard not to be in front of me, but she does try to bite my butt! And yes, she still uses wee-wee pads and still poops if my friends visit, but she tries very hard to get to the wee-wee pads! How sweet is that! She comes to me if I’m sitting, to get a good scratch around her neck. She comes to me with her tail wagging when I eat French fries. She plays with her toys, and yes destroyed a number of them. And she’s off Prozac.
The founder of the rescue I got her from, once told me that people were trying to convince her to put Georgia to sleep saying that it’s the most humane thing to do in this case because she doesn’t want to live. She sent them video clips I took of Georgia playing with her toys attacking, tossing, and shaking them around. Did somebody say that Georgia didn’t want to live…?
She has allergies, allergic to 31 out of 61 tested, which shocked even the vet (dermatologist) and his assistants. So she's on 4 different medications and weekly allergy shots and weekly baths. She's getting better at baths...
It's early in the morning of new year's eve. This is my second new year's eve inside with my mom and my sisters and brothers. And I look back, and I can't even recognize myself! I know I'm not quite there to be "normal" yet, but for a feral dog who most people assumed would never be normal, I think I can start presenting my case against that theory. This year, my mom can count the number of times she scrub my "objections" off the carpet. I usually get nervous and pant in situations where I would get scared, poop, hop into the bathtub, poop some more while keeping my mouth shut without letting any noise out! I made my mom cry a happy cry a couple of weeks ago by beating the back of the sofa mercilessly with my tail while getting a good body scratch. My mom can also take me to the vet on leash, not in a crate. I can sometimes not run away from mom when she pats me on my head while she's standing up. I'm getting there... Now I think I'll work on getting outside soon... if I get enough courage... Let's see how it goes...
The day like today reminds me of lots of unhappy memories... It's very very cold outside, and thank God I'm inside! My mom, upon coming back from a walk with Brooklyn, said she couldn't feel her ears. And I could feel that freezing cold air sneak inside whenever the door opens. I remember those days when I escaped from the vet's and wandered for 10 days. It was so cold! I got something called pneumonia because of that and was very sick for a while. Now that I think about it, I don't know if I would be alive if that kind lady from the rescue did not take me into her rescue because in my previous life, I've never known "inside". I didn't know it existed!
Now I think of my blood family who weren't so lucky as I was and had to stay behind. They didn't treat me nice, but in this kind of cold weather, nobody should stay outside! Why did those people get dogs if they didn't want them to be inside WITH them? I would never understand...
Every year, more than 4 million pets are systematically killed in shelters in the United States. Why you ask? They are simply not wanted by anybody. No fault of their own, they long for companionship and people to love and devote their unconditional love to. How could this be? Well, pet overpopulation. Dogs are "produced" in countless puppy mills by millers who only want money, and by BYB's (backyard breeders), some of them in it for money, some of them "think" they are doing the society good by providing us with the offsprings of their own cutest, more beautiful dogs, not realizing that they are just adding to the pet overpopulation problem in the US.
You can find so many adoptable dogs at your local shelters and rescues, and if you feel you can handle it, so many dogs that need some directions could also be found. There are no bad dogs, only bad owners.
So please... check out your local shelters or rescues before you buy. Here is a great site my mom first saw me from: www.petfinder.com